Wherever you have been searching for voluntary opportunities, it’s likely you have seen adverts from organisations looking to recruit trustees. But what is a trustee and why would you want to be one?

The guide below helps explain what a trustee does. who can be one and the benefits of the role. If after reading you think you would like to take on a trustee position, have a look at the links to current opportunities in Oxfordshire.

Kiera, OCVA’s own Chair of Trustees, runs training sessions throughout the year on being a trustee. You may find this useful if you cannot decide if the role is for you, would like more information on the process of applying for a role, or if you have recently taken on a trustee position. Details of forthcoming training can be found at the bottom of this page.

What is a trustee?

Trustees are a group of people who have the overall legal responsibility for a charity. The trustees make important decisions regarding the running of the charity. Individual trustees usually have specific areas of responsibility e.g. managing the finances, marketing etc.

Who can be a trustee?

Trustees usually need to be over the age of 18. Most adults can be trustees, as long as you have not be declared bankrupt or had certain criminal convictions. The most important skills as a trustee is a commitment to the charity and an honest approach.

What does being a trustee involve?

Fundamentally, the role of trustees is to work as a group to take decisions about the charity they represent to ensure it fulfils its aims. These decisions are taken as a group at formal meetings and once a decision has been made, all trustees are bound to support that decision.

Many charities also delegate day to day or operational matters to individual trustees e.g. an individual trustee may have the responsibility for the charities finances or for volunteer recruitment and training.

You may well want to contact an individual charity or organisation you are thinking of applying to and ask questions about what the role would involve and many organisations may make this quite clear in an advert for a trustee. A good general place to start is this article from the NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations).

What will I get out of being a trustee?

  • The chance to make a positive difference using your skills and experience
  • The opportunity to learn about managing charities through taking on leadership responsibility and helping to develop strategic plans
  • Experience working with a diverse group of people as a committee

How do I find out about organisations looking for trustees?

If there is a particular organisation you would like to volunteer for, you can always approach them directly and express your interest. If you are not sure where to start, the suggestions below will give you some ideas:

  1. Oxford Volunteers: The countywide volunteering website is a great place to begin you search for all volunteering roles, including positions as a trustee.
  2. Lieutenancy Trustee List: You can register your interest in being a trustee and receive adverts by email for potential trustee positions.  Email office@stevenson-oxford.co.uk
  3. Your local Volunteer Centre: They’ll be happy to help advise you and can always approach organisations on your behalf.
  4. National Websites:  Websites including The Guardian, Charity Jobs, REACH, Trustee Finder and Young Charity Trustees all list trustee roles, often for larger charities.